I would describe my 30 day winter break as the most incredible time of the year. On December 20, I flew to San Francisco to meet my mentor Terri Lyders and her husband Mark Reynolds, and I got to spend my first American Christmas with them. I remember waking up in the morning asking them “I’ve got presents?!” just like Harry Potter. I’ve never received so many presents in my life. On the same day, they took me sightseeing around the city. We visited the life-sized Gingerbread House at the Fairmont Hotel and the huge Christmas tree in Union Square. In the evening, we came back home to have a traditional Christmas dinner. The feast was just like something I’ve seen in movies when I was young. There was a big turkey, cranberries, stuffing and lots of cookies and chocolate for dessert. It was a really wonderful Christmas dinner.
We also went to an Ethiopian restaurant, and I learned Ethiopian food is eaten by using your hands. Ethiopian cuisine is a combination of meats and vegetables arranged on big flat plates. The main highlight of the food is the sourdough flat bread that’s used to wrap with meat and vegetables. My mentor Terri told me it’s impolite not to finish all the food, so I ended up finishing everything. It was my first time having Ethiopian food but I was a pro at it. It was very delicious. Eating food with my hands reminded me of home because some of the Cambodian food we eat also requires using your hands.
After Christmas, Terri took me to see the elephant seals in Año Nuevo. The elephant seals are really big just like fatty mermaids sunbathing on the beach. On New Year’s Eve, I went to see the Sing-Along “Sound of Music” at the Castro Theatre with another one of my mentors, Angela Chien, and we headed to a New Year’s Party afterward. During my time in the Bay Area, I also explored with my mentors Mylene Caplan and Tammy Tompkins. Between the two of them, I visited the Exploratorium, Golden Gate Observatory, the California Academy of Sciences, the Mission District, the Painted Ladies, and even took a trip to the Aquarium in Monterey with Angela.
This winter break was a great opportunity for me to get to know my mentors better. I enjoyed sightseeing and bonding with them in San Francisco. I even created a beautiful bond with my American friends Rosie and Henry (Mylene and Angela’s dogs). I couldn't spend much time with Debra Grassgreen during this winter break. I missed her and her smart 9-year-old son Jude so much, and I hope we can spend more time together during my next winter break. It was hard to say goodbye to the warm weather, delicious food, cool dogs and all of the fun I was having with my mentors.
I just completed my first full week back at Beloit. Now that I’m back on campus and reunited with my friends, I can’t wait to see what my second semester of college has in store!
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